A century ago only the privileged and rich could break away from the city to travel to fashionable foreign countries. They returned home relaxed and inspired by what they experienced and would demonstrate their being well travelled in fashion and home decoration: “Oh darling, I just adore your turban, and where did you get that lovely tiger rug?”
Nowadays a much larger group of people can afford a holiday abroad and many city inhabitants leave town en masse this time of year. Some cities, for instance Paris, do not empty. The inhabitants make way for (or flee) the torrent of tourists who are willing to queue up for hours to take a selfie with the Mona Lisa. Just another way of showing you are a real traveller.
People who, for whatever reason, spend the holidays in their own town can count on compassion and well meant comments:”Perhaps you could book a last minute, so you will have a real break.” It seems to be one can only get the genuine vacation feeling by leaving the city.
My two weeks holiday I will spend in the city (my home town The Hague) to finally undertake the long ago planned city safari. Biking or strolling in the city I notice developments or changes thinking: “I should have a closer look sometime.”, to subsequently relapse in the routine of daily life.
In my neighbourhood I spotted a pop-up park on an undeveloped site. It boasts benches, climbing frames and sand-pitches for children, a large sand-pitch for beach volleyball, a basket ball space and even a stage and a dance floor. This was during a rainy and cold day and I am curious to see how it looks in sunny weather and if it has been found by the people of the neighbourhood. Following that I will finally have a picnic in the garden of our king’s working palace. During the rest of my city safari I will avoid the quarters and districts where I usually sojourn and explore other parts of the city.
For example Spoorwijk, which means railway quarter. One of the two large railway stations of The Hague (Hollands Spoor) faces this quarter. Spoorwijk had a bad reputation for a long time. Due to the high costs of houses in other parts of the city, people with low incomes felt forced to settle here. Many immigrants found their first house in Spoorwijk. Inhabitants that were fed up with the declining of the neighbourhood initiated to give the quarter a boost in cooperation with the city government. Various interventions have been successful, however gentrification is still far away. The colossal building across the railway station where the office of the tax authorities was located, has been vacant for many years and is derelict. Nobody was willing to invest in the property.
Yesterday I read in our local newspaper that an immigrant who resided here in 1978 has become a successful business man. Kyasettin Aydin says:”Since 1994 I have witnessed the worst period of Hollands Spoor. Recently it has become a place where you allow your daughter to take the train unescorted, thanks to among others the inhabitants. And now I am going to invest in the neighbourhood.” Aydin will open no less than six new enterprises in the plinth of the tax office, including a branch of an international chain: a 300 square metres store that offers patisserie and goat milk ice cream. Aydin encourages the municipality to transform the rest of the building into students housing with 350 to 400 units. One of the large colleges of The Hague is on walking distance from the train station. The extended Leiden University (founded in 1575) is also located close by.
This summer I will not yet have the chance to taste the goat milk ice cream, but entrepreneurs in The Hague can enjoy the Iftar meal that Aydin generously offers during Ramadan. A pleasant and clever way to connect and inspire entrepreneurs in the city.
Will you also spend your summer in the city? You are welcome to share your experiences of an urban holiday on our website. Also if it is not your hometown. Send your text with maximum 600 words to firstname.lastname@example.org. #UrbanSummer tweets are appreciated as well: @jpi-urbaneurope.eu.
And wherever you are: have a lovely summer!